Beatrice did not encounter the same luck. She was burned at the stake, and, later re-burned to ensure that her remains would not be preserved and put to work in relics. The Antonian movement, however, was not so easily suppressed. The religion was headed by Pedro Constantininho until it was completely phased out. Because he involved himself in the movement solely for personal political advancement, Constantininho was not nearly as effective a leader as the late Donna Beatrice.
Soon, battles among the nobility again ravaged the land. Despite the chaos, and weak leadership, Antonianism continued. In February of 1709, Pedro IV successfully attacked Sao Salvador. To all intents and purposes, this attack ended the religion. The cowardly Constantininho was shot to death while attempting to switch allegiances in hopes of receiving a pardon.
Donna Beatrice attracted a large following in the Kongo by bringing things closer to home. She proclaimed the message of God's last judgement of the Kongo, inspiring people who would be unmoved if the message was about events in a foreign land. Beatrice's statement that Christ and his apostles were part of Sao Salvador's population had a similar effect. Beatrice was considered to be extremely generous and selfless, and thus, very African because she gave up all her belongings to the poor. This too, got her some following. By portraying the Kongo as a place of Biblical importance, Donna Beatrice earned the kingdom its religious independence. This non- adherence to Papal Rome was revolutionary, as was her assumption of the role of Saint Anthony, and that of kingmaker. She was also revolutionary in combining the roles of Saint Anthony, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ, like whom she claimed to have died, and been resurrected. Donna Beatrice is a role model for independent women for years to come.
Gordon, April A. and Donald L. Gordon, eds. Understanding Contemporary Africa. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1992.
Loth, Heinrich. Woman in Ancient Africa. Westport Connecticut: L Hill and Company, 1987.
Thornton, John Kelly. The Kingdom of Kongo in the Era of the Civil Wars, 1641-1718. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.
Thornton, John Kelly. The Kingdom of Kongo: Civil War and Transition, 1641-1718. Los Angeles: University of California, 1979.
The Africans -- A Triple Heritage: New Gods Written and Presented by Ali A. Mazrui. 60 min. 1996. Videocassette.
This essay was written in 1997.
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